BARTON COUNTY — Sewing gifts of caring, area seamstresses have been making baby blankets on a volunteer basis for babies born in Great Bend.
"The idea is for the babies not to get too hot and not smother in blankets," said Pam Stiles, nurse at Barton County Health Department. She is spearheading efforts to educate new mothers on safe sleep habits for newborns to reduce the instances of Sudden Infant Death.
"They do not need to be any hotter than we do," said Stiles. The research on the cause of Sudden Infant Death has developed over the years to where it is now thought that it is caused by a subtle brain stem dysfunction.
"In a normal baby, the brain will send a message to cry for help," said Stiles. In a SIDS baby, they do not cry for help when they get too hot or are smothered by blankets.
According to Stiles, the most common time for a baby to develop SIDS is within one week of the baby going to a sitter. "You need to write specific instructions so the baby doesn’t become stressed," said Stiles. Keeping the same schedule is important for the baby.
When SIDS happens, the brain and then the heart and lungs shut down. "It is like a light bulb going off," said Stiles.
SIDS is the leading cause of death of infants from one month to one year of age. In Kansas, there are 110.4 deaths per 100,000 live births.
Each mother who has a baby in Great Bend receives a visit from Darlene Moore, Healthy Start Home Visitor in the hospital They will then receive a follow-up visit from someone from the BCHD at 2-3 weeks. "We are there to make sure Mom and baby are OK," said Stiles.
The Twisted Stitchers sewing club in Claflin have donated fabric and time to make the blankets, as well as local seamstress Joyce Burham. The Stitchers received a grant from Midwest Energy for $200 and the Golden Belt Community Foundation gave a grant for $1200 for purchasing fabric. Some 4-H groups and school sewing classes have expressed interest in sewing as well.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has made recommendations on Safe Sleep for Babies. They are:
•Babies sleep safer on their backs. Babies who sleep on their stomachs are much more likely to die of SIDS.
•Babies need a firm surface to sleep on. Babies who sleep on or under soft bedding are more likely to die of SIDS.
•Every sleep time counts. Babies who usually sleep on their backs but who are then placed on their stomachs, like for a nap, are at very high risk for SIDS. It is important for everyone who cares for your baby to use the back sleep position for naps and at night.
•Do not allow smoking around your baby.
•Avoid products that claim to reduce the risk of SIDS. They have not been tested for safety.
•Use a clean, dry pacifier.
•Keep the baby’s sleep area close to, but separate from where you sleep.
•Keep the baby’s area clear of soft objects, toys and loose bedding. Do not use pillows, blankets, quilts, sheepskins or pillow-like crib bumpers, and keep all items away from your baby’s face. If a blanket is used, It should reach no higher than the baby’s chest. Tuck the ends of the blanket under the crib mattress.
Since the Back to Sleep campaign began in 1994, the SIDS rate has declined by more than 50 percent in the U.S.